If you had asked me earlier this year, "If there were any two people in the whole world I could meet, who would they be?" my answer would unwaveringly have been Tony DiTerlizzi and Chris Riddell.
Two Children's Book Illustrators who have been phenomenal inspirations for me, and whose work helped shape my desires to follow my own path in this direction. I discovered their work as an early teen, when I knew I wanted to "draw" as a profession when I grew up, and it was the vibrant creativity and magic these artists could achieve by illustrating stories that cemented in my mind the knowledge that I too, wanted to illustrate for books.
I am a regular follower of Tony's blog, where he shares his various stages during the conceptualisation of a story, the slow and lengthy process of character realisation, the work of his fans, and the work of those that inspired him. It was here that he announced he was going to London for a book tour of his latest illustrated children's novel WondLa, and a guest appearance would be made by illustrator Chris Riddell.
It seemed too good to be true, and an opportunity I decided I could not miss out on. I bought my ticket over, and embarked on my illustration pilgrimage.
Besides signing books for the little people, they both answered questions and talked about themselves, how and why they got into illustration, and recounted various humorous stories. I was struck by just how witty they were, and found myself sitting in the back row grinning ear from ear at their tales.
As a small show of thanks, I gifted each of them with a small watercolour sketch of one of their characters. Tony was incredibly sweet, it was my immense pleasure to have been able to meet him in person.
The other amazing part of the night was when Chris handed out three of his personal sketchbooks for the audience to look through. Whilst the little one's were getting their books signed, I sat and flipped slowly through these incredible tomes (because that is what they felt like). I felt my hands shaking in awe, it was a chance unlike any other I have ever had, to be able to glimpse in person the work of such a phenomenal artist. His "sketches" were mind bogglingly detailed and amazing works of art.
the detail blew me away...
she was my favourite....
They both urged me to not waste any more time and get my act together and submit my portfolio to publishers, and even though I knew this was the next step for me, it helped me feel more determined about it. I have a cold european winter fast approaching, where I will be working on a possible solo exhibition for next year. The work won't be exactly appropriate for a children's book portfolio, but it will be the beginning of this grand project.... 2012 will be the year that I finish a completed portfolio to submit to children's book publishers. That will be my resolution! Nothing will stand in my way!!
Next week I will be in Italy, as the end of my Art-Gallery/Illustration-Pilgrimage week is coming to an end here in London. The galleries have all been incredible, and indeed I filled 8 pages of my sketchbook at the Victoria and Albert Museum... but it would have been worth it solely to meet Tony and Chris. There is no one in the world I would have wanted to meet more than those two childhood hero's of mine.